Blog Entries: 1 to 10 of 35
WAGS was delighted to welcome John V. Richardson Jr. PhD/UCLA Professor Emeritus of Information Studies at our November meeting. He presented a case study combining DNA test results and a paper trail to solve a genealogy brick wall problem. He made a very convincing case using results from the DNA testing website https://www.23andme.com/
and many years of paper research to claim a distant ancestor. He reminds us that each of our GGGG-grandparents contributed 1.56% of your DNA, roughly. So those matches far back in time are very tiny and need a lot of paper trails to perhaps find the right person. A great resource to upload the test results from 23andMe, Ancestry and FTDNA is https://www.gedmatch.com
to compare with a large database of data that has been voluntarily uploaded by other testers. He suggested reviewing the website of the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) at https://isogg.org/
. Their mission statement is to “Advocate for and educate about the use of genetics as a tool for genealogical research while promoting a supportive network for genetic genealogists”.
If you were intrigued and want to learn more about DNA, consider attending the SCGS Genetic Genealogy day on May 31st
held in Burbank. It will have over 30 sessions by nationally known experts that cover every aspect of DNA research from beginner to advanced level.
Make sure you use the resources on https://www.dar.org/
, Social Security Death Index, WWI and WWII Draft Registrations, unusual Surname websites and First Family websites to go forward in time to find cousins. These cousins could have inherited the family Bible or ancestors photos. Often times the youngest child inherited these items since they took care of their elderly parents. Plus, you want to make it known that you are the family historian and will be a “good home” to any papers or research that a cousin may possess. Also, you may be lucky and find a research partner who shares your passion for genealogy.
Our morning class presenter, Pat Chavarria gave us insights about the resources that are unique at Historical Societies and Museums. She suggested expanding your research parameters. Make sure to visit these museums when you visit you ancestor’s hometown. They may have photos or displays that give understanding and context to the town’s and your ancestor’s history. Online, try the website http://www.preservationdirectory.com/HistoricalPreservation/Home.aspx
. It has a listing of 4,500 historical societies in North America, and 7,000 history museums and house museums.
I found for the State of Wisconsin, the website https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/
. It has many online records and databases. I located a newspaper clipping about my ancestor Francis Clyma, who opened the first hotel in Monticello, Wisconsin in 1836. His grandson Newell Ebenezer Combs is listed in the Military Collection in a Regiment book on the 22nd
Regiment Company G in the Civil War. Also it gives Newell’s hometown, date of enlistment and when he mustered out. These books list soldiers who were killed and wounded at each battle by regiment.
For Connecticut there is the http://www.newhavenmuseum.org/
it has a town map of 1641 of New Haven that shows the land owned by my immigrant ancestor Richard Hull. Ashtabula, Ohio has the 2nd
oldest historical society in Ohio established in 1838. Http://www.ashtcohs.com/
has a wonderful set of articles by the “Log Cabin Club” written in 1915, by people who lived in log cabins in that county as youngsters in the early 1800’s. I visited the Fort Pitt Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. http://www.heinzhistorycenter.org/fort-pitt/
, it had a display of the names of colonial prisoners exchanged in the French and Indian Wars. Was your ancestor in that area in 1756-1763, perhaps they are on these lists?
In the afternoon, we welcomed Bill Beigel, who instructed WAGS members on how to research our WWII service men and women. We learned about the Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). This document can contain details of the service of your ancestor. It will likely take months to obtain and can cost about $ 70.00. The fire in St. Louis in 1973 destroyed a majority of the files for Army and Air Force personnel for the surnames after letter B. However, Bill suggested at least make a request and see if you can get lucky. The After Action Report (AAR) is another resource to inquire about, these document the combat operations of specific commands and units in active theaters.
Visit NARA https://www.archives.gov/research/military/veterans
to get started. Online items available to view range from the American Revolution Pension and Bounty land records, Plans and sketches of Civil War Forts, Military Service Records from the Spanish-American War, Collection of WWI photographs, WWII Army and Army Air Force Casualties Lists, and pictures of United States Navy Ships (1775-1941).
I am sure all of you have hit brick walls in your research. I feel I have utilized many of the traditional resources and need to broaden my research scope. So lately I have been investigating manuscript collections. These are often documents, photos, registers, and vital records donated by individuals or organizations. They can be unique and not found anywhere else except at that archive or library. Plus the items themselves are usually not digitized and you have to use a finding aid to get details about what is included. Then, you must email or call the institution to have them assist you in reviewing the item.
Try looking at ArchiveGrid at https://beta.worldcat.org/archivegrid/
. I entered the name “Clyma” in the search box and got two results. One was a collection held by the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies https://www.butlercenter.org/
It has photographs of the 3rd
Missouri Calvary Company I in the US Civil War. One photograph is of my ancestor William Henry Clyma. He was born in Wisconsin and died in Missouri. I see no connection to Arkansas. I am able to then click on the link and contact them to see if I can obtain a copy of the photo.
I then tried a location search for “Woodbridge, New Jersey” and got 158 results, including Arthur Adams collection 1770-1911, that has deed and court records of the “Tappen Family” housed at the http://www.atlanticcountyhistoricalsocietynj.org/index.php
. And remember to use the Summary View of the results to narrow them down by surname, location, time frame etc...
The National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collection is located at https://www.loc.gov/coll/nucmc/
I tried a search using a surname and a county for “Bellinger and Schoharie”. This listed 2 boxes of legal and estate papers in housed in the New York archives. A search of collateral surnames is a must since you never know what a cousin or in-law may possess about your ancestor. So I searched for the “Phippen” family of Massachusetts and found a listing for 6 linear feet about them in the “Barton Family Papers”.
The FamilySearch.org wiki https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Main_Page
has over 2,200 search results for “Manuscript Collections”. A very popular one is the Draper Manuscript Collection pertaining to the frontier history and settlement of the old Northwest and Southwest Territories of the United States from the 1740s to 1830.It has 491 volumes of genealogical and historical notes, land records, newspaper clippings, and interview notes.
I hope everyone was inspired by WAGS August speaker Sara Cochran to get their family photos organized and digitized. Sara presented us with the history of photography so we could narrow down photo dates based on their unique production period. One example is Kodak started offering KodaColor in 35mm film in 1958.
She then suggested a list of supplies to help organize photos by decade, then by year, then by month. She said scrapbooking items work great. Make a timeline with your genealogy research to label photos. Remember to ask your family members to help with little details in a photo that may help date and identify the people or places. Since I am the youngest in my family, my much older brother and sister can remember events better than me.
We learned about “Metadata”. Per www.Wikipedia.com ”may be written into a digital photo file that will identify who owns it, copyright and contact information, what brand or model of camera created the file, along with exposure information (shutter speed, f-stop, etc.) and descriptive information, such as keywords about the photo, making the file or image searchable on a computer and/or the Internet.”
To learn more, watch a webinar by Thomas MacEntee http://flip-pal.com/videos/webinars/metadata/
Are you just not up the task of digitizing your 10,000photos? Sara suggested scanning services like www.clickscanshare.com/
that will create and organize the files for you for a fee.
Sara gave us a wonderful idea about checking in the society and local gossip column pages of old newspapers to see if a family get together was mentioned. Did your grandparents celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary? Do you have photos from this event but can’t identity the people? Perhaps there was a party that made the papers and listed all the relatives and guests who attended.
I went back in my files and calculated 25th
wedding dates. I then looked in the http://rockrapids.advantage-preservation.com/
for the name McKee in 1932. I found an announcement of a party for their silver wedding anniversary. This can now accompany a photo of the event.
At the July WAGS meetings we had our “Show and Tell” by four members. Terry Berg displayed the photos restored by the 2017 WAGS exhibitor “Picture Perfect Photo Retouching & Copy”, their website is http://www.pictureperfectphoto.net/
. Deborah Mohr did a wonderful job of restoring Terry’s photos and if you go to the website, the lovely girl in the white dress on the left side with the long blond girls, you can see for yourself. Consider getting those old photos made beautiful again by a professional so they can be passed down to your heirs.
If you have photos that you don’t know who is pictured or if you have rescued photos from a garage sale, consider posting them on websites like http://www.deadfred.com/index.php
. You can search by surname or place. If you do a search for Whittier, CA there are some interesting old photos from the 1930’s to 1940’s of Whittier residents.
Our next presenter was Jo Hurdle; she shared an original Civil War Discharge Document from a person that is not in her family tree. She has spent a lot of time trying to understand why this important paper ended up with her family papers. She has a small lead but she is still researching. I am sure this veteran’s Fry descendants would like to get this document back.
After my father passed away, we found a few graduation photos that he must have exchanged with fellow graduates in 1943 from Torrance High School. I took the time to research trees on Ancestry and FamilySearch to locate any living descendants. I was able to reunite all the photos except for one. All the families were delighted and grateful to obtain the photo. So if anyone knows the family of Ralph Wolfe born about 1925, I would love to know.
Our third presenter was Roger Mount; he shared the genealogy items he created to take to Pennsylvania for his wife’s family reunion. They had 110 attendees and he brought the Family Tree Bingo Game to play with family members. What a great way to get people interested in their ancestors and hopefully share stories. The website http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/WhatsNew9.asp
demonstrates this new feature in LegacyFamilyTree version 9. He also created a book filled with pedigree charts, family group sheets, Census pages, WWI Draft Registrations, and Naturalization papers. So next time you have a family get together try to entice people with a game or interesting documents.
Lastly, our Seminar Director, Rick Frohling presented “CSI: Mason City, IL” the account of the unsolved murder of the Mr. and Mrs. Meisinger. The newspaper stories of this murder were filled with half-truths and changing details from day to day. Many people in and outside the family were under suspicion and under arrest for a time since a large sum of money (the exact amount changed with each story) was stolen. The story went nationwide to New York and California newspapers, far from this tiny town. Rick reminded everyone to search for morning and evening editions of newspapers since each could have different information.
What an in interesting presentation by Julie Huffman, the Genealogy Librarian at the Los Angeles Central Library. She demonstrated the helpful resources located at the Los Angeles Public Library located at 630 West 5th Street in Los Angeles. They are located on Lower Level Four. They have over 45,000 genealogy books that range from Family Histories, Heraldry, How-To Books, Immigration books, Local Histories, Maps, Military Records, Name books, Telephone Directories and Vitol Records. Plus you can use databases such as Ancestry.com, AmericanAncestors.org and FindMyPast.com on site at the Library.
The HeritageQuest.com website has Book Searches of over 28,000 Family and Local Histories. I searched for my ancestors “Robert and Deborah Sophia Cowden” of Jefferson county, OH. It found a book of Tombstone inscriptions for the county, which listed their burial location and death dates. You can also do a location search of publications. So I tried the county name of “Cattaraugus” and it found a book about my ancestors who lived in the village of Franklinville on Bear Creek. There are City Directories for small to large towns. I found Margaret and Mary Coleman living at 321 De Kalb Street in Ottawa, Illinois in 1904. This is a tiny town of less than 10,000 people but they had a City Directory.
The NewspaperArchives.com database is very easy to use and has a lot of search choices. They have over 2,700 newspapers for over 300 US cities. I did a search for “Clyma” in Wisconsin and found a wonderful article about “Whenever you see a hole in the ground you will find a Cornish miner”. It mentions my ancestor Francis Clyma immigrating from Camborne, Cornwall in 1827 to be one of the first miners in the state. Plus the Los Angeles Times 1881-1993, New York Times 1851-1993 and San Francisco Chronicle 1865-1922.
The 1890 Los Angeles City Directory is a nice substitute for the lost 1890 Census. Looking at it, we learn that Whittier is “On the S P RR, 12 miles southeast of Los Angeles and has daily mail.” Plus Mark Anthony is a Barber, W. Harvey is the Proprietor of the Greenleaf Hotel, J.W. Gevin runs the Livery, Sadie Singerland is a Milliner and Mrs. C. S. Strong sells fruits and pampas plumes.
The Digital Sanborn Maps range for 1867-1970, you are able to view the layout and businesses of Whittier for many years ranging from 1888 to 1948. It lists the street blocks and building numbers. I was able to locate the Window Cleaning business for my husband’s ancestor Isadore Horowitz at 26 Oxford Place in Richmond, New York in 1937.
Lastly, Julie suggested searches your surname in the Genealogy & Local History Index, checking their holdings for PERSI articles, keyword searches of your ancestor’s communities, checking surname dictionaries and the Coat of Arms card index.
Julie said she would enjoy helping your from her Reference Desk at the library, take her up on it!
WAGS Program Director, Roger Mount gave an insightful presentation about the use of three retouching programs to assist you in learning basic tools to improve your photos. He suggested saving your most important photos as TIF since this file type does not compress pixels. However, realize that TIF does create very large file size. You can download for free http://www.irfanview.com/
. And they all offer tutorial videos. I have never used any of these programs but I tried paint.net on a photo of my grandparents Leonard and Violet Johns from the 1940’s. This photo was blurry and way too light.
Paint.net was simple to download and to use. I remembered to work on a copy and NOT the original as Roger emphasized. After just 20 minutes of making adjustments, I made the photo much clearer to view. It still needs work but I got a good start.
Our afternoon program, brought us Jane Neff Rollins. She told us about the usefulness of Labor Union Documents for Genealogical Research. She suggested looking for documents that list your ancestor’s occupations. If they were, just as examples, Tailors, Musicians, Railroad Workers, Auto Workers, Mine Workers, Cigar Makers or Blacksmiths, there could be ledgers, local meeting minutes, membership cards and newsletters. These resources can give unique details about your ancestor’s lives. Also, perhaps photos from meetings or newsletters. Plus these newsletters mention members who are past due on dues, where members have relocated after retirement and even obituaries of union members
I hope you all enjoyed my presentation on the genealogy website www.MyHeritage.com
. It has over 80 million users that have created over 2.4 billion tree profiles on 35 million family trees including those from www.Geni.com
. You can download their Family Tree Builder software to create your own tree from scratch and then save and update your work on their site. Or upload a tree of less than 250 people from a GEDCOM for free. You are able to purchase three different subscriptions levels to use their 7 billion historical records from all over the world. There is an APP for Android and IOS that you can download to your mobile device that will automatically sync with your online tree. Also, consider inviting other family members to view, update, and add records, photos, and family stories to your tree. You can control this tree as the administrator and are notified of all changes.
However, if you have a SCGS membership, they offer the Library edition to research 98% of the databases as a remote access benefit. They have some unique collections like the Danish National Archives to index Census and Parish records from 1646 to 1930 (a total of around 120 million records). The Pedigree Map is a fun tool to plot family events like birth, marriage and death on a world map. This can help you see migration patterns, where families connected and note geographic similarities. Plus, clean up place names on a Location Standardization Function. The Tree Consistency Checker tool helps you find illogical events in your tree like a woman dying at 150 years old or having a child at age 85 years old.
Our afternoon speaker was Erin Fletcher Singley, the digital curator of the local history collection at the Whittier Public Library. She demonstrated the online resources of Whittier newspapers from 1888 to the present at http://www.cityofwhittier.org/depts/lhr/about/newspaper.asp
. City and Street Directories from 1903 and 1911 are digitized and searchable online. Whittier Maps abound at http://www.cityofwhittier.org/depts/lhr/about/maps.asp
. There are over 12 linear feet of vertical files of newspaper clippings organized by subject. Plus, for fun there are over 200 matchbook covers from local Whittier businesses to get a view back in time.
She looked up member’s home addresses to see details about their homes over time in the newspapers. So we saw when homes were bought and sold, who attended a bridal shower, and who graduated high school. These details can give great insight to your family since the newspaper was the social media of the day.
If you have family that has lived in Whittier for a long time, I would suggest taking some time to view these online resources. Or take the time to visit the library in person and see what Erin can help you find. She looks forward to meeting you!
At the March meeting we had two captivating and useful presentations. The morning session by our Past President Rick Frohling, illustrated the need to find and use available State Census forms. Www.Google.com
are your best sources to locate where they are online, at a university, or a library. Rick told us that they could be designed to collect specific data, such tallies of school-age children and potential school populations to predict needs for teachers and facilities or age of males for potential militia service. Also, they can be a good bridge for the missing 1890 Federal Census. Rick showed us many examples of the wide and varied questions that were asked, many different than the Decennial Federal Censuses:
1865 Minnesota: “Soldier in service on June 1, 1865”- A lead to check for Military and Pension records
1895 Wisconsin: “Nativity” (United States / Germany / Great Britain / Ireland / France / British America / Scandinavia / Holland / All other Countries) - A lead to country of origin
1925 New York State Census: “Number of Years in the US / Citizen or Alien / If Naturalized When and Where” – A lead to locate the courthouse where these papers were filed and executed
1925 Iowa State Census: “Full Maiden Name of Mother / Place of Birth / Age at last birthday”
1935 Rhode Island State Census: “Ever had Measles / Scarlet Fever / Diphtheria / Schick Test“
1945 Florida State Census: “Degree of Education” A lead to check for yearbooks and/or school records
Even if the State Census is just a head of household like Mississippi in 1845 or Alabama in 1855, it helps put your ancestor in a time and place between the Census years. And you can analyze who were the friends, associates and neighbors of your ancestors to learn about their FAN Club.
Our afternoon session, we had representatives from the Association of Professional Genealogists, Southern California Chapter come speak to us about when, how and why to hire a professional researcher. WAGS welcomed Jean Wilcox Hibben and Barbara Randall who discussed utilizing the services of genealogy professionals listed on https://www.apgen.org/
. They said that you should always obtain a written agreement for the work to be performed and the compensation. A retainer is suggested to protect both parties. Be prepared to provide ALL of your research, so work is not duplicated. Ask for references to see if the researcher can provide what you are expecting. APG has over 2,800 members worldwide to choose from, so if you have hit a brick wall consider having a professional to help break it down. Or if you are contemplating becoming a professional yourself researcher consider joining APG to improve your skills, learn advanced instructions and expand professional contacts.
Cyndy Richardson talked about using https://new.genlighten.com/
to find the right researcher for your project by locality, specialty, or repository. The background, reviews, references of the all the professional researchers are all in one place to do basic document lookups to large-scale ancestral lineage studies.
Maps, Maps and more Maps, our speaker Larry Naukam of the Rochester Genealogy Society http://nyrgs.org/index.php
gave us hundreds of resources for our ancestral locations, then and now.
I hope you put these suggestions to good use. I know I thought about my Cornish Grandmother Violet Odgers Johns who arrived by herself at Ellis Island on October 31st
, 1915 aboard the S. S. New York. She had married Leonard Johns in June 10th
1913; however, he had to get back to New Mexico to earn money to send for her to come to America. So just four days later, on June 14th
, 1913, he sailed on the S.S. St. Paul to New York. So she had to wait over two years to see her husband again. Upon arrival she needed the assistance of the Travelers’ Aid Society as listed on her passenger arrival record, to go by railroad from New York City to Mogollon, New Mexico. I used the Library of Congress’ map collection https://www.loc.gov/rr/geogmap/
to view railroad route maps. This is a wonderful resource that you need to explore. It showed she likely went from New York to Chicago to St. Louis to Dallas to El Paso to Albuquerque to Mogollon. This took weeks for a young girl from a tiny English village to travel across the US to a reach a tiny mining community in the mountains of the Southwest United States.
Did you ancestor fight at the battle of Antietam or many other battles of the Civil War? At https://www.loc.gov/item/map05000006/
it has topographical relief maps from September 1st
, 1862 with a daily account of the Antietam conflict. It shows where the Union and Confederate regiment forces fought and the Generals who commanded them. So dig out those pension files and service records to locate your ancestor’s military activity.
it has a large collection from 1860-1918 of county land ownership atlases that list property owners’ names. They also indicate township and county boundaries and can include photos of county officers, landholders, and some buildings and homes. This can show you neighbors and family members who live next door or perhaps across the river. This could give you a clue to the name of the girl that your young male ancestor married a few farms away. The 1869 Franklinville, Cattaraugus, New York map shows my ancestor as listed as J.T. Boice Est. since he had just died and his property was in probate.
Probably one of the biggest map collections online are at http://www.davidrumsey.com/
Have you used Fire Insurance maps? They have Halifax, Nova Scotia maps that show who owned many buildings and where every cemetery, church, and park is located in 1878. For 1872, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania maps show all the land owners. There are over 100 maps for Providence, Rhode Island and over 700 maps of San Francisco, California from 1851 to 1948.
the Bureau of Land Management should be searched to associate an individual (Patentee, Assignee, Warrantee, Widow, or Heir) with a specific location (Legal Land Description) and time (Issue Date). They have a variety of Land Patents, including Cash Entry, Homestead and Military Warrant patents. So if you think your ancestor male or female had Homestead land, this is where to check and then write for the complete file.